Sunday, November 12, 2006
I'm going to tell you a little story about my Halloween. I went to a party where the theme was "drag." The most obvious interpretation was that you were supposed to come dressed in drag, but guests were free to be a little more "creative" if they wished. I personally think it was just a way to give guys a way out of dressing up in women's clothing, but whatever...
So most people at the party did come in the clothing more common for the opposite gender. I was an old man--Hawaiian shirt, floppy hat, flip-flops with socks--it was a good look. There was one guy who came as a cigarette. And then there was another guy who came in wearing a t-shirt that said:
"I got dragged in Jasper, TX and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."
His t-shirt had fake blood on it, and I think that was pretty much the whole costume. He saved us the pleasure of seeing him in blackface, but the point of the costume was clear. He was coming as James Byrd Jr., the black man who was dragged to his death by two white men in 1998.
How clever. And funny.
A lot of the people at this party were gay, and I doubt that this dude would have come as Matthew Shepard tied to a post if the theme had been "Wyoming" or something like that.
The whole incident pissed me off for several reasons: 1) The guy thought it would be funny to come as a person that was a victim of a hate crime. I understand that people like to dress up as dead people for Halloween, but I have never heard of a person coming as a murder victim, much less the victim of a hate crime. 2) This guy would not have worn this costume to a party full of black people, so why did he wear it to this party?
I have the answer to my own question: He wore it because he knew that more than likely no one was going to say anything to him about it. I got all kinds of excuses from my white fellow guests about why talking to him was not a good idea: It's a party, everyone's trying to have a good time, he didn't mean anything by it, etc., etc.
There are always a ton of excuses that can be made to try to avoid putting yourself out there for something that doesn't directly affect you. I find as I get older that my patience is wearing thin for people who like to make excuses. If you don't give a shit about racism because as a white person you benefit from it, then just say that. I can understand that, it makes logical sense. But don't act like you care (like some of my white liberal friends,) and then fail to do anything when your feet are to the fire.
That's all for now. As always, I welcome your comments.